Saturday, April 10, 2010

5 Steps To Effective Employee Education and Communication

“Don't Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz, Author

5 Steps To Effective Employee Education and Communication

It is tempting to quickly summarize happenings when time is tight and deadlines are looming, but often that just confuses or alienates people further. When complex or important occurrences are minimized, people tend to feel left out or suspicious about what they do not know. It is reminiscent of the concept “we know just enough to be dangerous”. Danger is not what we want… knowledge is. Just as talking is not communicating, providing documents such as organizational charts or spreadsheets, is not educating. Having stated that, together effective employee education and communication can be accomplished in 5 straight-forward steps.

1. Prioritize expectations and deliverables. Basing priorities on cost verses benefits and tying them to realistic time lines will educate team members on reasoning and timing. Communicating these things to all involved limits discrepancies in importance.
2. Define and communicate (verbally and in written form) each role and those role responsibilities. By breaking down the responsibilities, overlap will not occur often and strengths are directed toward the proper channels. Additionally, when people know their roles and responsibilities, they are able to work both independently and as teammates when needed.
3. Review progress on a regular, frequent basis. This is not to micromanage, rather to allow people to know when you are going to check in, and what you want to see. Additionally, you can celebrate wins, review what is going well, and determine what you want to reassign, change or update. This formal communication need not be lengthy, yet it is tremendously valuable.
4. Reassess priorities and focus. By tracking and reevaluating where each role/responsibility is and how they fit the “big picture” is an effective way to consistently reinforce priorities and/or change direction calmly and clearly to all involved. If something gets added or changed, or the scope is slightly different at some point, it is too easy to think it does not impact people when it does, and this step will include communicating influxes of new expectations or the elimination of others; keeping the focus clear for all.
5. Measure and share results. Be direct on what is measurable and when it will be measured. This supports the adage “actions speak louder than words” and will keep people productive over just being busy. When people exceed or miss targets, all is communicated together. Wins are still celebrated and called out, while misses are not overlooked. These results become inspiration and accountability for those involved.

While the steps here are covering both education and communication, they combine to create a leadership and teamwork environment regardless of your industry, group, project or system. Once these steps become part of your leadership style, you will be less tempted to summarize or skim and more inclined to include and yield even higher results!